Education

Keningau science teacher seizes STEM opportunities

Press release from Keningau Vocational College

PJ Ape Angat, a science teacher from Keningau Vocational College, successfully secured two opportunities – 1) a research grant and 2) a conference presentation slot in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) during this almost a year-long school closure.

He was the sole Malaysian recipient of SEAQIS Research Grant 2020 worth of nearly RM1,500 in late April and his application to present his work orally at International Joint Conference on STEM Education (IJCSE 2020) on 18-19 November was accepted.

The former was granted by SEAMEO Regional Centre for QITEP in Science (SEAQiS) that is based in Indonesia, while the later was virtually hosted by SEAMEO Regional Centre for STEM Education (SEAMEO STEM-ED) headquartered in Thailand.

SEAMEO is an acronym that refers to Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization which has various branches across the ASEAN nations.

Keningau Vocational College science teacher PJ Ape Angat. – photo courtesy of Keningau Vocational College

Angat’s research was to identify whether school students learnt better by being at specific sites or locations outside their usual classrooms or laboratories.

This was relevant to the new normal in education since the school closure had caused students to learn remotely for several months. He assigned his students to carry out two tasks where they had to explore the natural surroundings of where they lived.

The first task was to collect, identify and document information related to tropical plants that grew in their neighbourhood and the second task was to set up a composting bin or pile at their homes.

When schools reopened in June, the students were able to present their findings during science lessons and Angat offered each student his feedback on their progress.

He discovered that the students managed to acquire greater understanding of many aspects related to plants other than the scientific knowledge. They learnt more about their ethnic traditions and mother tongues too.

As a grantee of SEAQIS Research Grant, he had to attend online training on research throughout April until November 2020, where he was expected to submit his final report and research article on early November.

He presented his research which delved into the potential integration of field-based learning into science lessons at the virtual conference hosted by Thailand-based SEAMEO.

He based his work on a specific branch of STEM which is known as “THAMES” that stands for STEM + Arts + hands-on. He aimed to enhance students’ level of engagement in science lessons through the concept of experiential learning.

Keningau Vocational College, director Johari @ Jaibet Bin Saibin, has always encouraged the students and teachers at the school to explore more alternatives on how something can be accomplished.

In the context of teaching, he urged his teachers to find various ways in boosting students’ level of motivation in learning.

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